Rejoicing in Lent

Every Lord’s Day, we mark the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Every Lord’s Day we mark the glory of the resurrection. We do this on a grand scale annually, with our celebration of Easter, but we must not forget that each Lord’s Day does the same thing. (And let us leave aside for the moment whether the Church should at some point find a better name for this celebration than one named after a Germanic spring fertility goddess.) The point is that we are constantly celebrating a world made new in Christ. We are a new humanity, dwelling in a new heavens and new earth. We note this annually, to be certain, but we also do it weekly.

In doing this, we are not reading the book for the first time. When we come to Good Friday, we already know how the story ends, and only a fool would be truly despondent because the Lord has died, and what shall we do? The period leading up to Easter (what we call Lent) is therefore not a penitential season in any basic sense. We are to rejoice always, and we cannot get away from this really, because Easter is weekly. Joy always breaks in, and does not behave itself.

This is why at Christ Church our observance of Lent does not cultivate what might be called a liturgical penitence. At the same time (and this is very important), there are fellow communions in the broader Church which do, and although we differ, to that we say, God bless them. These sorts of things are truly adiaphora, things indifferent—so long as we are not giving way to spiritual snobbery (in any direction), and so long as we all never forget that the Lord is risen indeed, and are quite content to be fully convinced in our own minds.

And so, while our great annual celebration of Christ’s conquest of death is still weeks away, we are not left without consolation. Five days before Good Friday is a weekly Easter, just like today is. Rejoice always. I will say it again—rejoice.

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